Fois Gras? Caviar? Exotic truffles? Just what does an A list fashion designer enjoy for a culinary splurge? If you're Peter Som...mac 'n cheese! "Delicious, satisfying, hearty, classic, humble," the designer recently explained to The Daily, about his version of the dish, which he makes with three different cheeses and chantarelle mushrooms. He's also been known to bake pies for his lucky staff, and even bring in the odd vanilla-frosted chocolate cake. An avid fan of the Barefoot Contessa, Lydia Bastianich, and Ruth Reichl's Gourmet magazine, he recently read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" which has added some locavore flair to his adventures in the kitchen (which have included smoking out the entire house attempting flank steak.) "Cooking is kind of like making a dress, in a way," he muses. "You think about the balances - if you have something shiny, like a fabric, you pair something matte with it. Then you contrast textures and colors. It's the same thing with food - you want it salty, sweet, hard and soft. You want a little crunch. I wouldn't liken a crostini to a dress, but I think about them in a similar way."
Here are some of Som's tips & recipes:
Cooking with Peter:
ADD SALT "Salt. It just heightens flavors. I use it in desserts. I also like chili-pepper flakes."
SIGNATURE SOUP For his minestrone, he makes his own chicken stock. "I try a different variation every time. Try throwing in a little pancetta. It's a great one-pot meal, especially with bread and apple pie."
CHIC COOKWARE "I use All-Clad Copper Core stainless cookware, which I really like a lot. The handle doesn't get hot. I don't really use nonstick that much. I adore my Global knives. They have nice torque."
APPETIZER: Crostini with Pear, Maytag, Honey and Walnuts (Serves 4-6)
- half a baguette cut into 1/2" slices & toasted lightly
- chunks of blue cheese (try Maytag or or Roquefort)
- 1/2 c. walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet on low heat for 1 minute
- honey to taste
- 1 pear (try Bosc) sliced thinly with a mandolin & tossed in lemon juice (prevents browning)
Make it: Top the bread with pear and then some cheese. Add a walnut and drizzle with honey.
MAIN COURSE: Winter Panzanella (serves 6)
- 1 bag carrots cut into lengths of 2" each
- 1 red onion - slice into wedges
- 1 zucchini - cut into cubes
- 1 yellow squash - cut into cubes
- 2 shallots - quartered
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
- olive oil, salt & pepper
- 1 small sourdough boule - cubed
- 1 cup Parmesan - grated
- 1 cup pine nuts - toasted
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon - juiced
- zest of 1 lemon
- champagne vinegar - 3 Tbsp.
- grain Dijon mustard - 1 Tbsp.
- kosher salt - 1/4 tsp.
- pepper - 1/8 tsp.
- chili-pepper flakes - 1 tsp.
Make it: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a sheet pan with olive oil, salt & pepper - toss the carrots, onion, shallot, zucchini, and squash. When the veggies are on a single layer, bake them for 20 minutes or until they are browned and tender. While they are baking, saute the bread cubes in a large skillet; use 1 Tspb. of olive oil and medium heat, and saute until they are lightly browned. Remove the bread cubes from the pan and replace with pine nuts; toast for about a minute until they are lightly browned.
Vinagrette how-to: combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. While whisking the mixture, slowly pour in the olive oil until everything is emulsified.
Final touches: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, toss with the vinagrette, Parmesan, and flat-leaf parsley...and enjoy!
DESSERT: Dipped Ice Cream Sandwiches (serves 4)
- 8 white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (try Tate's)
- softened dulce de leche gelato (try Ciao Bella) - 4 large scoops
- chocolate ganache: 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, 2 Tbsp. heavy cream, and 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper combined in a double-broiler over low heat until smooth & glossy
Make it: Scoop gelato onto a cookie, sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel, place another cookie on top, and press down to form a sandwich (be careful not to break the cookies). Dip into the chocolate ganache, and immediately place on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Freeze at least 1-2 hours, or overnight. For a tangy twist, add 1 tsp. chili-pepper flakes to the ganache, and omit the fleur de sel.
- Lesley Scott